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The Latvian social partners of the construction industry are calling on the country’s parliament to make changes in the Latvian labour code in an attempt to reduce undeclared labour, improve the professional qualifications and, at the same time, improve the competitiveness of their companies.

The call is being backed by FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) and the EFBWW (European Federation of Building & Wood Workers), which said that changes were needed to ensure that the Latvian collective agreement for the construction industry could be made generally applicable to all construction workers and companies.

The Latvian social partners of the construction industry (the Latvian Building sector trade union and the Partnership of Latvian Construction Entrepreneurs) were said by FIEC and the EFBWW to have demonstrated a great sense of responsibility to improve the competitiveness and the sustainability of the Latvian construction industry, by signing a first sectoral collective agreement earlier this year, which was expected to improve the living standards of all Latvian construction workers.

The two Europe-wide associations said that clear evidence had demonstrated that countries in which the national social partners of the construction industry were willing and able to take their share of responsibility to regulate the labour market jointly, they were able to reduce undeclared labour, improve the professional qualifications and, at the same time, improve the competitiveness of their companies.

They added that collective agreements were considered as an important tool in securing employment in current and future types of working arrangements, allowing flexibility and ensuring a level playing field between companies.

Despite the agreement reached by the Latvian social partners of the construction industry, the legislator was described as being hesitant to approve the required changes in the Latvian labour code.

The EFBWW and FIEC said they regretted this situation, and in support of their national affiliates they called on the Latvian parliament to accept the required changes in the Latvian labour code, which they said were needed to ensure that the Latvian collective agreement for the construction industry could be made generally applicable to all construction workers and companies.

They said this would strongly contribute to a sectoral level playing field and was an important step towards a sustainable construction industry.

Dietmar Schäfers, president of the EFBWW, said he welcomed the impressive economic progress of the Latvian construction industry.

“Over the next decade,” he said, “the industry will be confronted with many challenges, such as the need for qualified workers, preventing fraud and abuse, stimulating sustainable growth.

“The Latvian national sectoral social partners, in particular, are able to offer a more tailored and concrete approach to solve the real issues at stake. Now, the Latvian Parliament holds the cards – will it deal in favour of progress or a standstill?”

Kjetil Tonning, president of FIEC, said, “The development and support of sectoral industrial relations, as well as the autonomy of the social partners, have always been and will continue to be a high priority on our agenda.

“We strongly believe that the officially recognised social partners are best placed to adequately take into account the specific needs of our industry, and to define the most appropriate frame for ensuring its competitiveness and long-term sustainability.”

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